Who has to pay Council Tax

Every domestic property that appears in the Council Tax valuation list is a chargeable dwelling and the Council Tax is payable by owners, tenants or occupiers.

To establish who must pay the Council Tax, we check down the list (hierarchy) below until we find a category that applies to someone in the household. The person in the highest category of residence would normally appear on the Council Tax bill and be held liable for the charge.

  1. A resident of the dwelling who has a freehold interest in the whole or any part of it.
  2. A resident of the dwelling who has a leasehold interest in the whole or any part of it.
  3. A resident of the dwelling who is statutory or secure tenant of the whole or any part of it.
  4. A resident of the dwelling with a licence to occupy the whole or any part of it the property.
  5. A resident of the dwelling.
  6. The owner of an unoccupied dwelling.

If two or more people appear in that category, they are all jointly responsible for paying.

Joint and several liability

If more than one person is held liable for the Council Tax at a property, each of them will be liable for the whole Council Tax charge and not just a share of it. This is called joint and several liability.

For example, if you rent a property with a joint tenant, you may decide to pay half of the Council Tax each but if one of you fails to pay, the other person remains liable for the full amount.

Those who are married to each other, or in a civil partnership or are living together as if they are married or in a civil partnership held jointly and severally liable for Council Tax, even if only one of them owns or rents the dwelling.

Caravans and boats

For the purposes of Council Tax, a pitch for a caravan or a mooring for a boat is included in the Council Tax valuation list. When the pitch or mooring is occupied by a caravan or boat, it is a chargeable dwelling.

When the pitch or mooring is empty and not occupied by a caravan or boat, a Council Tax exemption can be applied. To apply for a Council Tax exemption on an unoccupied caravan pitch or boat mooring, please email the Council Tax team at revenues@uttlesford.gov.uk with photographs of the empty space and confirm the date that the pitch or mooring became empty. Please also provide contact details and we will be in touch if we need any further information.

Council Tax discounts and exemptions

In some circumstances, occupied and unoccupied properties are subject to a Council Tax discount or exemption. Please check discounts and exemptions for more information or contact revenues@uttlesford.gov.uk for advice.

Freemen on the land

Being a 'freeman' does not exempt any person from paying Council Tax.

The freeman on the land movement and similar groups, commonly believe that they are bound only by statute laws they consent to. Being a 'freeman' does not exempt any person from paying Council Tax.

The liability to pay council tax falls under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and later regulations. This is a statute created by a democratically elected parliament of the United Kingdom which has received the assent of the crown.

Liability to pay council tax is set by The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992. This gives local authorities the right to demand council tax which is used to fund essential local services.

Council Tax is therefore not optional and not something you consent to.

If you are liable to pay council tax, you must make your payments.

Any reference to a person not having consented or there being a contractual relationship between the council has no legal basis.

Contacting us

While we do our best to answer all relevant enquiries about Council Tax, we will not respond to lengthy enquiries that focus on hypothetical arguments that have no legal basis which use our resources at the expense of other taxpayers.

Legal Advice

There are many internet sources which contain misleading information and incorrect advice relating to 'freeman of land' defences. The correct legislation is freely available from the government website Legislation.gov.uk and includes:

Local Government Finance Act 1992
Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992
Council Tax (Demand Notices) (England) Regulations 2011

If you have any concerns over the charging of your Council Tax, please seek proper legal advice. Find out about where you can get free advice if you are struggling to pay or about qualified lawyers in our area, from the Law Society.

Freeman on the land FAQ

I'm a Freeman on the Land and I am not liable

Being a Freeman on the Land does not mean someone can choose which laws they adhere to and which to ignore.

The liability to pay Council Tax falls under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and later regulations. This is a statute created by a democratically elected Parliament of the United Kingdom which has received the assent of the Crown.

What will happen if I withhold payment of my Council Tax

Anyone who withholds payment will have recovery action taken against them.

In extreme cases this could even lead to committal proceedings, or even a prison sentence, as in the Manchester Magistrates' Court vs McKenzie (2015) case, where an individual who attempted to use similar 'freeman on the land' defences in court ended up in prison for 40 days. 

If you have any concerns over the charging of Council Tax, please seek proper legal advice, rather than relying on internet sources or forum statements which may be incorrect or misleading.

Can the local authority provide a contract signed by both parties

Council Tax is a creature of statute therefore a contract is not required. Any reference to the Companies Act, Unfair Contract Terms Act, Bills of Exchange Act or any other acts regarding companies or contracts is irrelevant.

Can the local authority provide confirmation that the debt exists lawfully

Liability to pay Council Tax is set by The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992. This gives local authorities the right to demand Council Tax which is used to fund essential local services.

The issue of a Council Tax Demand Notice (the bill) creates the debt. A signature or agreement from a resident is not necessary for Council Tax: it is a tax, not a contract.

Can you provide documents that have a 'wet ink' signature

A signature is not necessary for the billing of Council Tax and no wet ink signature is mandatory on a court summons either.  Previous case law has clarified that the use of a rubber stamp or electronic signature are both valid for the purpose of the court signing a summons.

Please can you send me your VAT details/provide a VAT invoice

Council Tax is deemed outside the scope of VAT therefore we are unable to provide a VAT invoice. Uttlesford District Council's VAT number is 214 442 204.

Please can you state whether you are a company or a corporation

Uttlesford District Council is a local authority within the Public Sector and as such is not a company or a corporation and does not have a company number.